How many of you LOVE going to conferences, but hate the awkwardness of having to walk up and talk to people you don't know???
I am definitely in that boat! At my core, I am an introvert. The idea of having to go up to someone I don't know and introduce myself is terrifying. Once the conversation is going, I am usually fine. But that initial approach is the worst! Thankfully, over the years, I have found a way to avoid having to make the first move altogether. Whenever I go to a meetup, conference, or any dev related social event I always follow this advice 👇
When you go to a networking event, such as a meetup or a conference, wear something that will cause someone to strike up a conversation with you! Given that the engineering dress code is usually informal, and consists a lot of hoodies and T-shirts, wearing a conversation starter is incredibly easy.
- A T-shirt with any of the following:
- Favorite sports team or sport in general
- Favorite piece of software
- City you are from
- State you are from
- Your college
- Your favorite movie, TV show, computer game, band etc.
- An organization you are a part of
- A hat with any of the above
- A laptop sticker or bag patch with any of the above
The key is visibility. You want someone to be able to spot your conversation starter easily. By showing off what you are interested in, those with the same or similar interests, will often come up to you and start the conversation for you! By doing this, you will get yourself off the hook for having to initiate most of the conversations. Personally, I find it much easier to talk to someone when they come up to me, rather than me having to go up to them.
On the flip side, when you are at a meetup or conference, have your eye out for others who might be wearing conversation starters! If you see someone wearing a T-shirt with your city flag or alma-mater or favorite sports team, walk up and start a conversation using that piece of commonality. Hey, I see you are wearing an XYZ shirt, is that where you went to school? Is that where you are from? etc. Having a little piece of commonality like that will make getting the conversation going a lot easier than starting with something like, "Oh the weather was nice today!"
By wearing your conversation starter, you can find common ground with a stranger without even saying a word and that is going to make networking and meeting people a whole lot easier! So grab your favorite T-shirt and get out there and make some new nerdy friends! 🤓